British Monarchy

The UK is a constitutional monarchy whereby the hereditary monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of state and the democratically elected Prime Minister, currently David Cameron of the Conservative Party, is head of the government / parliament.

Whilst the ultimate executive authority over the United Kingdom government is still by and through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers are only used within the constraints of convention and precedent and according to the laws enacted in parliament. In essence the Queen must follow the advice outlined by her government ministers.

Queen Elizabeth II has reigned sine 6 February 1952. She, and her immediate family, undertakes various official, ceremonial and representative duties, the Queen is also limited in bestowing non-partisan honours.

The Queen is also head of state for 15 other realms and is the head of the commonwealth. Within each country for which she is head of state she is represented by a Governor General, who is appointed by her on the advice of the ministers of the country concerned and completely independent of the UK government.

The title to the Crown derives partly from the statute and partly from common law rules of descent. Despite various interruptions through the ages in the direct line of succession, inheritance has always been the way royal power has been passed down the generations, with sons of the sovereign coming before daughters in succeeding the throne.

The Queen has four children of which Charles is the oldest and heir to the throne followed by, in age order, Anne, Andrew and Edward.